You've already learned Telling time in French - simple. In this lesson we'll see how to use the 24-hour clock and to differentiate between AM and PM in French.
In France you will often hear the twenty-four hour clock used, as such:
Il est vingt heures.It's eight PM.
The fact is that, when there's no risk of confusion between AM and PM, French people use both 12-hour and 24-hour clocks :
On se rejoint à cinq heures.Let's meet at five.
On se rejoint à dix-sept heures.Let's meet at five.
- You know you're probably not meeting at 5AM! -
However, when there is risk of confusion between AM and PM, you will either use the 24-hour clock, OR add precisions like du matin (in the morning), de l'après-midi (in the afternoon) and even du soir (in the evening, starting around 6PM), after the 12-hour clock time.
Il est six heures du soir.It is six PM.
Il est dix-huit heures.It is six PM.
Il est six heures du matin.It is six AM.
Il est trois heures et demie de l'après-midi.It is three-thirty PM.
Il est trois heures et demie du matin.It is half past three in the morning.
Il est quatre heures et quart de l'après-midi.It is quarter past four PM.
Il est quatre heures et quart du matin.It is quarter past four in the morning.
With the "above 12 o'clock" times (13h, 14h, ...), you don't use et quart, et demie, moins le quart but instead you use quinze, trente, quarante-cinq, probably for pronunciation (and elegance) reasons.
Il est seize heures quinze.It is quarter past four PM.
Il est quinze heures trente.It is three-thirty PM.
Il est dix-neuf heures quarante-cinq.It's quarter to eight PM.
Want to make sure your French sounds confident?
We’ll map your knowledge and give you free lessons to focus on your
gaps and mistakes. Start your Braimap today »